No matter how good your memory is, there will be times when it fails you. Often, this happens during an emotional time, when you need to recall important information quickly. Such was the case as we sought answers to my husband’s medical issues a few years ago. His symptoms were so unique to us at the time; we wrote them all out along with questions we had for the doctor. I placed the paper into a manila folder, intending to keep it as his health file for this particular issue. Little did I know how big that file would become!
Between various doctor appointments, testing, and trying to keep track of new symptoms, that file folder became thicker with receipts and notes. It also became messier as I wrote on the inside and outside of the covers, trying to keep track of things the doctors said.
Switching to a Portfolio
After a few weeks, I knew I needed something with pockets. We had a growing collection of business cards, and paperclips were too easily knocked off. I also wanted an easier way to find info, whether it was the list of symptoms or the log of doctor appointments and tests. A quick search on Amazon turned up exactly what I needed: an 8-pocket portfolio. A few paperclips and a metal ring were all that was needed to create the perfect health file. I wish I had thought of this when my children were young! It would have been so easy to set up files for each family member.
Infant’s Health File
There is so much to keep track of when you become a parent! For the first two years of their life, your file could be set up with the following pockets:
- Blank paper to keep a log of birth statistics and “firsts” as they happen
- Calendar pages to schedule doctor visits
- Receipts from doctor visits
- Blank paper to keep a log of when baby eats and sleeps
- Log of baby gifts received and who still needs a Thank You card
Children’s Health File
Hopefully, your child will not go to the doctor quite as much after the age of two. But, if an emergency arises, having a file on hand will help you remember important info. Here are ideas for items to keep in their health file:
- Blank paper to keep a log of “firsts” as they happen
- Calendar pages to schedule doctor visits and other important days
- Blank paper to keep a log of any allergic reactions they have to food or environmental items
- Receipts from doctor visits
- Important phone numbers (pediatrician, Mom/Dad cell phone, Poison Control, etc.)
Adult’s Health File
As with the children’s files, an adult file will hopefully not be needed too often. But sometimes things come up. File away the portfolio each year and get a new one for the next year, or empty it out each January (file the papers away) and reuse the same one. For my family, I use a simple manila folder for routine doctor visits and illnesses. My husband’s portfolio is kept up-to-date and emptied out monthly as needed, so it doesn’t get too full. Some of the things in his file:
- A dated log of doctor visits and tests performed, as well as any observed allergic reactions
- Receipts from doctor visits and testing
- Duplicate lists of current medications and supplements (doctors always ask for this list, so we keep updated copies available)
- A list of each doctor seen (name, specialty, contact number, office address)
- Metal ring holding doctors’ business cards
- Printouts of medical info found online or received from doctors and nurses
- Discharge papers from any hospital stays
Creating Health Files for Your Family
Whether your family is young, or your children are all grown, it’s never too late (or too early) to create a health file for each member. Try starting out with just a plain manila folder. Don’t be afraid to write on it! Jot down any instructions the doctor gives you, and keep all pertinent info inside. Add the family member’s name and date, then file it away when the illness passes. The next time you need to go to the doctor, grab a new manila folder.
If something comes up that requires multiple doctor visits, such as a broken bone or a serious illness, start a portfolio. Create portfolios for each family member to make doctor visits even easier. You may even want to use a 10-pocket portfolio and designate a pocket or two for each person — having just one portfolio to grab, instead of looking for the one that belongs to the person going to the doctor, can make life easier. Remember to clean them out yearly, or as needed. With a little organization, you’ll never be at a loss for the name of a doctor or forget to mention a symptom at the next appointment.